Ms. Union nodded, and soon everyone in the room was low-humming to Tina Turner’s classic “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?
Ms. Union’s silence, it turned out, was recuperation from the intense emotional experience of a monthlong book tour spent listening to painful stories of hundreds of women (and some men). For many showing up to buy her recently published memoir, “We’re Going to Need More Wine,” the area around her served as a sort of pop-up safe space to express their pain.
Some of her readers, she said, have experienced the most horrific abuses imaginable. The kind of abuses, she said, if someone were to put it in a movie, it wouldn’t seem realistic.
Some would wait at the end of the line to meet her so they could get more time. End-of-the-line people were especially raw, Ms. Union said, as if their traumatic event just happened. Their story would tumble out in the seconds it would take for her to sign their book. And then came the tears.
Ms. Union would weep too, in her hotel room every night on the tour, thinking of what some of these women had suffered. “Crying like I’m at a funeral,” she said.
The actress has been in the public eye for over 20 of her 45 years, so it’s fair to say that these people sharing sensitive material with her don’t feel as if they’re meeting her for the first time.
On her Instagram account, 9.1 million followers are treated to outfit changes and frequent flashes of a dimpled, dazzled smile. The other day Ms. Union posted a video taken in June of herself in a velour tracksuit, shimmying for friends to Beyoncé’s “Love on Top.” Her husband, Dwyane Wade, is the shooting guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the team won that night, so the caption read: “Me after that win and rolling into the weekend like.”
And the likes poured in.
Since 2013, after big roles in “Bring It On,” “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Ugly Betty,” Ms. Union has been playing the lead character in the award-winning…